Catan – Review for Bloggers Board Game Club

Catan is a game for 3-4 players aged 10+ RRP £44.99, find Catan from Esdevium at your local toy store by searching here.

This month the Bloggers Board Game club sent us Catan to have a look at. I knew as soon as I saw the front of the box that the boy would enjoy this one. Catan is a trade, build, settle game and that is exactly what you have to do. The box contains terrain hexes with a frame border. Tokens, resource cards, dice and playing pieces including the robber.

The Catan rule book looks daunting, but this games comes with an alternative way to learn how to play. There is a handy game assistant which you can download onto you phone or tablet. This runs you through all the basic play and I found was a great way to get the game started. The Tutorial helps you to set up a basic three or four player game. It covers how to lay out the hexes, settlements and roads. It then takes you through basic turn taking, trading and building.

We very quickly found we were playing the game without the apps help. The rules at first look complex but we found easy to learn. Catan progresses as each player trades to enable them to build up their settlements upgrading and gaining victory points. The games winner is the first to 10 victory points. These can be gained for different achievements such as longest road or most battles won.

Play progresses with a throw of the dice, and then collecting your resources. Trading these with other players and then using them to build up your roads and settlements. Trading can be fun and a little frantic if there is a particular card you need. We found there was a little ganging up on the player in the lead to try and stop their progress. This just added to the fun of the game.

Catan is a game I can see we will be playing lots over the winter as it is very well suited to three players. Catan also offers the possibility of changing up the board and moving from the beginners set up to the more tricky variable set up. We haven’t quite braved this as we are getting used to where the beginners board takes us. There are also a range of Catan extension packs available so the play-ability of this game is endless.

Disclaimer: we have been sent Catan as part of the Bloggers Board Game Club with Esdevium Games and have not been paid for this review. #BoardGameClub

 

 

World Wonders Ravensburger Puzzle – Review

World Wonders is a 2,000 piece Ravensburger puzzle which is part of the Panorama collection of puzzles. Suitable for 14+ and RRP £20.99 this puzzle measures 132 x 61cm when complete.

world wonders

World Wonders is an illustrated puzzle by Maria Rabinky and with 2,000 was going to be my Christmas challenge. Like other Ravensburger puzzles, World wonders has the same well made pieces with the soft click technology which means they fit together perfectly. I did feel daunted when I first opened the box but with a little help from the boy soon got started. I find I only use the box for my sorting pieces, but with this puzzle decided I needed a couple of trays. as I sorted and looked for the edges, I also decided to separate all the blue coloured pieces. Strangely I found it easier to complete the penguins and blue seas first.

world wonders puzzle

Sorting through the 2,000 pieces of the World wonders puzzle took some time, and completing the edges took more than an hour. It was interesting to see how much of my table this puzzle took up. I thought the boy might enjoy helping with this puzzle, but in-fact he found it a little daunting, and helped towards the end when he could see that we were getting close to completion.

world wonders 2000

I love the details on the World Wonders puzzle, there is some poetic licence with the placement of some of the images, and the boy enjoyed finding these. With two Sydney opera houses, floating kiwis, and some strange islands off the Cornish coast. The details of animals and famous landmarks is lovely on this puzzle, but don’t be fouled to thinking that you will know the location of every piece. The pieces are smaller than the illustration on the box subjects so the World Wonders puzzle is still a challenge.

world wonders finished

I loved the Panorama puzzle size which makes a change from the standard rectangle and this fitted the map view of the puzzle well. With the addition of the fish and dolphins, boats and islands there are no large coloured spaces so your interest is kept right up to the last piece. World Wonders I think took me around 8 hours in total to complete, although I do get carried away and still finished this puzzle within 2 days of staring it. I love the bright colourful details of the World wonders puzzle, and think that puzzle fans will enjoy the challenge of this larger puzzle.

Have a look at Ravensburger for other puzzles in the Panorama series like the one I completed of London at Night as well as lots of fun puzzles for the kids.

 

Disclaimer I was sent this puzzle to review the words remain my own and have not been changed.

Welcome to the Reading Chest

Today is International book giving day, so here is my gift to you, Reading Chest is a great and convenient way to encourage children aged 4-9 to enjoy a variety of books from the comfort of your own home.

The book rental service specialising in reading scheme books for children aged 4 to 9 years. Sign up, choose your books and wait for them to be delivered to your door. No due dates, no late fees, no hassle.

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I was thrilled at the chance to try out Reading Chest, as the main focus for the boy at school is to improve his and the whole years reading levels. I found it very easy to set up my account with Reading Chest, you simply choose the monthly plan which suits you.

Bronze package – up to 6 books a month

Silver package – up to 12 books a month and multiple books lists

Gold package – unlimited supply of books and multiple book lists*

This means that you can get books for brothers and sisters learning to read who are at different reading levels or with different book preferences.

With the flexibility to suit your family whether you have one child or more, I think there is a package to suit all. Simple to set up an account, you enter your child’s name, and your delivery details as well as package choice and payment details. This was very easy and straight forward to do. I found it tricky to know which reading level the boy was on, so chose one based on his age. But don’t worry, if you do get this slightly wrong it is very easy to move up the colours.

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You have the flexibility with Reading Chest to choose the books schemes to match so if there is a particular scheme like Oxford Reading Tree that your school or nursery use then you can choose this. I opted for a selection as I didn’t mind which books we received. There are sections on the website to help and explain the book bands and give you information on how to choose the right one. with lots of helpful reading tips the site is very clear to understand and I have found it very useful.

After we had registered it was only a day before we received the first parcel. The personalised envelope (a lovely touch as the boy loves parcels addressed to him) arrived and contained four mixed fiction and non fiction books, and a drawstring bag to store them in. There is also a footprint chart to measure your progress as well as stickers, information leaflet for parents and a return envelope.

The boy was immediately taken with the book Weird Weather and sat down to read, the books were in great condition and we had no problems with any missing or damaged pages, but if you do have a problem with any of the books sent then you just get in touch with the Reading Chest and they will sort it out!

I have been very impressed with the whole package and had I found the reading Chest when the boy was younger, can see it would have been a great advantage not having to make a mad dash back to the library each week for late books. I also like that you can see clearly as your child progresses in their reading through the coloured bands. I have also found out that the Reading Chest is compatible with the boys new school reading scheme, so each book he reads will count in his points for school. I think this will spur him onto completing the books we have and we will be getting some more.

We returned two of our books last week and within 48 our new books had arrived, I had also changed the reading level. The scheme is easy, simply return the books in the envelope provided (if you lose it another can be requested online or by phone) and once received back at Reading Chest a new selection will be sent out.

There is no minimum contract with the Reading Chest so you can start and stop as it suits, starting from just £9.95 a month for the bronze package I think this is great value for money. For all my readers I have a discount code allowing you to receive £5.00 off your first month, why not try it and see how it fits in with your family!

Discount Code HAPPY2014 £5 off your first month (you can try for just one month as there is no minimum length of contract)

I have also been given one prize of three months Silver Membership for one lucky reader, and as today is International Book Giving Day this will be my gift to you!

To enter simply complete the rafflecopter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was given a code to access the Reading Chest as a trial, the opinions remain my own and have not been altered.

Minecraft, Beginner’s Handbook

Today sees the release of The Minecraft Beginners Handbook and to celebrate Children’s Book Week we are giving you the chance to win the boys NEW favourite book, from Egmont publishing. Aimed at children aged 9+ and priced at RRP £7.99,  ok, I know last week his favourite was the Minecraft Annual, but this week it is the Minecraft Handbook.

So why does the boy like this book so much, I think it is the love of Minecraft, and the way this beautifully laid out book gives him all the information he needs. The format is well thought and laid out, which he can easily understand. As a parent I don’t think this book is something I would have chosen, but for the amount of enjoyment the boy has had out of it, it’s been the best value for money from a book we have had in a long time.

The boy has kept going back to this book to find more information, he keeps trying to tell me about all about buildings, what turns what into what, and he especially likes the table of elements. I think the Minecraft Handbook and Annual are two of the nicest looking and feeling books, they are certainly unusual in their vintage feel with fake leather covers and gold embossing.

We give this book a HUGE 5/5 and I know the boy will have the next Minecraft handbook on his Christmas list. You can find out more about Egmont on their website, Facebook and Twitter.

Now it is your chance to own this beautiful book and see what you think. Simply fill in the rafflecopter and keep your fingers crossed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link up, Read, Enter and Enjoy!

Children's Book Week Badge

Disclaimer we were sent this book to review and keep, the opinions remain ours and have not been changed. This competition is open to the UK only.

My Big Truck Book

My Big Truck book is a great colourful information book from Tick Tock and is part of a series of books which include My Big Animal book. We were sent a copy of My Big Truck Book to have a look at and with its big colourful pages, hard cover and bright pictures it is very appealing. This book is recommended for ages 5-7, as the pages are nice and thick and bright I would think any digger fan would be pleased to own it, and it would last some smaller hands having a flick through its pages. I think there is a lovely level of detail in this book with plenty of information to keep enquiring minds occupied while those that can’t read confidently, can admire all the different type of trucks. There is a varied mixture of vehicles, some you see everyday along with the slightly more unusual like the monster trucks. The fonts used are also lovely and clear and easy to read, with the right amount of words that wont seem daunting to new readers.
This is the sort of book the boy would have loved to read in bed when he was younger, but now that he is a confident reader can be used as a reference book for those school projects. Our favourite pages have to be the Dustcart, as the boy wanted to be a dustman when he was 3!

We think this book is great and at £6.99 is good value for money.

We are going to give this book 5/5 as it is a great well thought out and colourful book.
Tick Tock books are part of Octopus Publishing group with a lovely mixture of early reader and reference books for all ages so have a look at their website for more information

Disclaimer we were sent this book to review but the opinion’s remain ours and have not been altered.

Weymouth Sealife Adventure Park, and park number six on our list

Park number six on our list of Merlin parks to visit was going to be Weymouth Sealife Adventure Park. After a quick skip down the motorway we arrived. The park is located just on the outskirts of the town, with a large car park. After a quick car picnic we headed inside. I have never been to this Sealife park before and was pleasantly surprised that it was quite different to the others that we have visited.
The first thing is that each different environment is in an individual building, so you follow footsteps around the park. You need to go outside, so wrap up warm! This I can imagine would not be so much fun on a wet day, but it was dry but very cold for our visit. There are also some fun splash areas and a mini pool, which I am sure is popular in the summer.

We followed our map through the usual fish, seahorse, shark stingray, and jellyfish tanks. As with the Birmingham Sealife we also had a quiz to follow.
The seahorses at this park are amazing and something a little special. They were defiantly my favorite, and something I would be keen to see again.
The park also has the added extra of a small ride area, Daddy and the boy braved the crocodile splash, but I didn’t want to get wet! The boys favorite ride the jumping jellybean was good and along with a couple of other rides made a nice addition.

The park is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, so there was a nice added FREE tour of behind the scenes. The tour is every 20 minutes and you queued up at a point just past the penguins. They give the first 15 people a quick briefing then whisk you off into the back of the buildings.
For me this was the best part of the park. The guy who showed us round told us a little about the history of the park. Along with details of breeding programmes, release schemes. Animal health and even the naughty octopus!
This tour is short 10-15mins but is so worth while. It was great to learn that all the fish and animals come through Weymouth before going out to Sealife centres all over the world. They health check all the animals before they go anywhere. We were told about how they try to breed all their stock. So less fish are taken from their natural habitats.

This is a great place to visit, and I can imagine is very popular on a sunny day. we gave this park 5/5 as it was so interesting and a bit different to the others we have visited. This park would have cost £22.50 adult and child. The website has some good offers including combined tower and centre tickets

Dr Dreadfull Scab N’ Guts Game review for Izziwizzi Kids

This is our second game review for Spin Master games, and Izziwizzi Kids Play Fest and I must confess I was not looking forward to this one, as I am a little bit squeamish! so was pleasantly surprised.

The game is for families and ages from 6+ and retails in the US at $14.99 which I think it good value for money.

The game comes in a lovely sturdy box with a long playing board with a body and lots of fun facts. Six playing pieces as organs, 2 packs of question and forfeit cards. I thought it was a great idea having the gameplay and rules printed onto the inside of the box with yet more fun facts, so no chance of losing the all important instructions.

The game starts with the player with the cleanest fingernails, and you choose a category. At this point I would like to say make sure that you give the cards a VERY good shuffle as all the forfeit cards are together, so good idea to spread them out on a table and shuffle that way. Players pick questions and move spaces as per the cards. Forfeits are great there are good (Green move forward) and bad (Brown move backwards). Some are facts, some you act out. The Boy (7) loved these, and I think it made up for the fact he lost the first game, as lots of giggles.

Some of the questions and words the boy found difficult to read as lots of medical words but great for the vocabulary! You take it in turns to read questions, but you could play in teams if playing with younger kids.

We loved this game, there is a nice mixture of hard and very easy multiple choice questions, the only problem we had with a couple was some of the American terms, like Boogers…The Boy thought lots were gross, but when a few questions came back round he had remembered the answers. We even got Granny playing this one, and although reluctant at first, thought it was good fun and went on to win.

I think this would be a GREAT christmas after dinner game, and lots of fun to be had!

we give this 5 out of 5! Brilliant…

Thanks to Spin Master, and Izziwizzi Kids…

Video review for Tummy Ache…

We were chosen a couple of weeks ago by Izzywizzi Kids Play fest on Facebook to review one of the games from Orchard Toys called Tummy Ache. They were looking for families to review their top six Christmas games.

Our video review can be found HERE

The game came very well packed direct from Orchard toys, so no damage from the delivery which is great for gifts. The game itself is very well made from sturdy card and I would imagine will last as well as all Orchard toy products do.

It says the age range is from 3 -10 we think that it would be more enjoyable for the younger children as The Boy (7) and I could finish a two player game in less than five minutes. We changed the rules slightly that you couldn’t pick up a discarded card to make the game last longer.  We found it more fun when playing with Daddy and will be trying it out on Granny at the weekend. The cards are bright with great graphics, and we made up names for the bugs, The Boy was getting upset as I kept winning which is very unusual for me but he did beat me in the end!

It was quick to learn, and easy to understand, I think it would be great with different ages, and would be fun for a short time but you might get fed up after a few goes.

Tummy Ache retails at £9.50 which we felt was a little expensive for something that was ended so quickly.

Overall we give this game 3 out of 5 and we will be playing it again.

 

We played this with Granny as promised at the weekend, and she picked it up very quickly. We had great fun and it is a much better game with 4 people. Still finished a game in less than 5 minutes and granny won!